George Middlemas, alumnus and philanthropist, dies

June 25, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — George M. Middlemas Jr., a Penn State alumnus and generous University donor, particularly to the University Libraries, passed away June 14 in Bachelor Gulch, Colorado, two days after his 72nd birthday.

Middlemas graduated in 1968 with undergraduate degrees in history and political science and continued his education, earning a master’s degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh and a master of business administration from Harvard University. His professional career was spent in the banking industry in New York and Chicago, culminating in the field of venture capital, where he most enjoyed helping young entrepreneurs with innovative technologies and new business pursuits. He concluded his career in Chicago with Apex Venture Partners. 

An active investor and board member of several prominent companies, including America Online, he also was a longtime member of the University Libraries Development Board.

Middlemas was a strong supporter of the liberal arts and humanities as well as Penn State Athletics, where he created several special athletic scholarships and supported student tutoring programs. He established seven endowments with the University Libraries, including three for the growth of the Libraries’ historical collections. His philanthropy often honored individuals with significant impact on his or family members’ lives.

In May 2001 Middlemas committed a $1 million gift to name and support programming and collections development for the Fletcher L. Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences Library for the Distinguished Alumnus from the Class of 1940, Board of Trustees member and one-time president of the Pittsburgh-based Koppers Co. At the time, Middlemas noted that Byrom was a great influence on his life and was “responsible for” Middlemas attending Penn State.

He and wife Sherry Petska Middlemas also became benefactors of the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library in Pattee Library, also on the University Park campus. At the time they made this gift, George noted that they recognized the value of a liberal arts education and was excited that their gift combined his passion for the University Libraries and also ensured support for important resources for students and faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts.

Similarly, the Warren W. Hassler Civil War Era Libraries Collections Endowment and the Hassler Graduate Fellowship in the College of the Liberal Arts are named for one of his instructors, the late Warren W. Hassler, professor emeritus of American history. The Albert M. Petska Eighth Air Force Archive, an endowment named to recognize his father-in-law’s service in the 8th Air Force, also recognized his father George M. Middlemas Sr.’s service in the 15th Air Force. The Ruth C. Silva Scholarship for Academic Excellence he established in the College of the Liberal Arts honored the professor emeritus of political science, also an authority on presidential succession and legislative appointment.

A luncheon and celebration of life will be held at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, open to all who want to remember and honor George Middlemas. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the George and Sherry Middlemas Program Endowment in the Arts and Humanities Library in care of The Pennsylvania State University, 510 Paterno Library, University Park, PA, 16802. Gifts sent by check should please indicate “Middlemas A&H Library Endowment” in the memo line, or may be placed via phone at 814-865-2258

  • photo portrait of white man in white tuxedo, black tie, black vest, white dress shirt

    George Middlemas

    IMAGE: provided by Sherry Petska Middlemas
Last Updated August 31, 2018